by Dave Margoshes
Having lived a long, eventful life, Charlie Weinheimer’s only regret is that he has no one to carry on after him. After a near-death experience, he resolves to find out whether a secret buried in his past is proof he has a legacy after all.
“Margoshes gives us the life of Charlie Weinheimer: quadruple bypass patient, widower whose children all die tragically young, but not a whiner. In his hospital bed at age seventy-seven, he’s seen it all, right? Well, maybe not. Watch as Margoshes calls upon his raconteur skills to thicken the plot.”
— David Carpenter, winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for A Hunter’s Confession
HAD A MASSIVE HEART attack last year.
Damn near died! Was halfway there, and a most interesting experience toward the end of the critical time. I was taken to the hospital in a car at 2 a.m. by my friend, Mabel Austin, a crusty old gal who takes sass from no one and spares no one her own. She rushed inside and got the security and another man to get me on a cart. I was sitting for what seemed a long, long time on the edge of the car seat in a parking lot outside of the Emergency door, expecting to get jumped by a mugger. I was going to go with a piece of him in my teeth.
Also, I was weighing my chances of making it, or not making it.
Out of my mind with pain but at the same time thinking damn clear.
No fright, though. I was ready to go but regretted I hadn’t made some arrangements to dodge the mortuary and morticians. I’ve made them now. I’ve collected my medical history (most of it, anyway), my body goes to a medical college. When the med student looks at it and wonders what the hell this guy did, what he went through, he will have the documents to tell him. And quite a story it is, too, what with a few scars I picked up walking up and down the Korean Peninsula in a machine-gun rainstorm. Well, that was a long time ago.
They put me under with Demerol and it was a pleasure to let go of that pain, I can tell you that. I became a junky for a few days while in Intensive Care. That was okay.
While I was going under, I called for my Mabel. But the doctors were too busy doing a quadruple bypass or something of that sort on me to get her until later. Mabel told the surgeon that she’d actually meant to take me to the other hospital, about twice as far away, but got her signals crossed somehow. He told her that if she had she most likely would have arrived with a dead man beside her.
Pretty close, but I did not see St. Peter, nor the Golden Gates, didn’t hear any harps or other types of heavenly music. I was just waiting for some guy to jump me in the parking lot, and even that didn’t happen.
Afterwards, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been robbed after all, stripped of something valuable I’d never be able to reclaim.
Still, all in all, I came out okay. Nothing like a close call to sharpen the mind, though, isn’t that what they say? Focus it? I came home from the hospital with a certain resolve. Live a better life, be a better fellow. When you’re as old as I am, it’s easy to make resolutions—you only have the rest of your life to stick with them, after all.
I’ve never been much of a drinker, certainly no one who ever had to go to an AA meeting, but I’ve had a few friends who’ve had their sorry lives turned around. There’s one of the steps of the big twelve where you go round asking people to forgive you. Asking for trouble, seems to me. Happened to me more than once, fella comes along says he wants me to forgive him for such and such, something I never was even aware of or was but had forgotten about. Might still be stuck in this guy’s craw, but to me it was never a big deal. But now, he calls it to my attention, maybe I get sore, hell, no, I don’t forgive you! See what I mean? In my case, as it happens, I’m an easy-going sort, and forgiving by nature. But what if you aren’t?
What if a fella came along and says, “Look, I slept with your wife, oh, years back, I was a drunk then, didn’t know what I was doing. I want to apologize, heartfelt as all get out. Please forgive me.” Well, depending on your temperament, you might deck this fella or worse, and do the same to your wife later—or, if you have a sense of humour, you might say, “Whatd’ya mean, you didn’t know what you were doing?”
Rife with danger, that’s the way I see the whole exercise.
about the author
DAVE MARGOSHES' books include three novels, five volumes of poetry and a biography. God Telling a Joke and Other Stories will be his seventh collection of short fiction. He's had stories and poems published in dozens of magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States (included six times in Best Canadian Stories), had work broadcast on CBC, and given readings and workshops across the country. He was a finalist for the Journey Prize in 2009. Along the way, he’s won a few awards, including the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry in 1996, the John V. Hicks Award for fiction in 2001 and the City of Regina Writing Award twice, in 2004 and 2010. His Bix’s Trumpet and Other Stories was Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and a finalist for the ReLit Award in 2007, and his poetry collection, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Prize at the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards. His A Book of Great Worth was one of Amazon.Ca’s Top Hundred Books of 2012.
by this author
by Dave Margoshes
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